Song Dissection With Artist: Grant Olsen of Gold Leaves & Song “Cruel & Kind”.
If you’ve yet to see Gold Leaves live, well then you need to hit The Tractor on January 14th to see them perform. While at the Reverb Festival this year, I was floored by their live performance. Sure I thought the album was top notch, but Grant Olsen and company are some of the best musicians this city has to offer (and thats sayin a lot).
But let’s not stop there..two more of “our” favorite bands … Cumulus (who have played a Seismic-Sound show. click here for video), and Fort Union (un-seen live footage of Fort Union here)will be kicking things off early. No reason to get there late cause all these bands are well worth the going ticket price and then some.
We want to thank Grant for doing our “Song Dissection”, and putting the creative effort into the lyrics of “Cruel/Kind”(writing the lyrics on a album sleeve, just a little something extra looks great). Check out the video at the end of the “dissection” for some live Gold Leaves footage I shot at Reverb Fest 2011. Read below:
I think “Cruel/Kind” was the oldest song that made it onto the record. When I eventually put all the songs together, it was positioned as sort of an axis between “The Silver Lining” (track 1) and “Futures” (the last track), with all three tracks getting progressively denser in structure and imagery. I think, lyrically, all three songs probably look for some sort of comfort in the synthesis of seemingly contrary ideas (or forms) and certainly take a lot of stock in the notion of useful contradictions. I think the “cruel and kind” line is just as much (or more) of an acceptance of that contrast as it is a struggle with those opposing sides. That might all just be lazy-taoism now that I’m thinking about it, but there are some other themes trying to be explored here as well (however shabbily).
These three songs try to touch on the idea of “resemblance” (or mimesis?) and maybe the best example of this idea came a couple of years after I wrote “Cruel/Kind” when I got hip to the Nick Lowe song, “Cruel to Be Kind” and some cruel/kind wordplay in a Midlake song I heard on the radio a few days later. I was completely (or at least unconsciously) unaware of these songs while writing my own version, and I was probably feeling pretty sharp about it until those discoveries. Although this mostly demonstrated the failures of my imagination, I think it pointed to what I was trying to get at in this song … the idea that there’s no way, at least for me, to write (or be) something that isn’t tied to something else that existed before it and will come after it. It all probably lives in the same universe (even if the parameters are slowly expanding). And I think if that’s the case, the idea of ownership (to ideas or *anything* really) completely falls out the window, because nothing can ever be entirely yours with this in mind. Just as the prideful sense of feeling “kind” (in this song) or “just” isn’t warranted because those exist within the same parameters that hold the unkind and unjust notions. I think, in terms of writing music at least, the (attempted) loss of autonomy and the bow to participationism has been more productive for me in the last couple years. But that’s not saying that there’s not a constant struggle to get much better at participating and to try to find the weird corners and sub-corners of the parameters that people have (amazingly) created outside of the main-stream. long way to go.
Gold Leaves, Cumulus, Fort Union at Tractor Tavern on January 14th at 9pm. Click here for tickets!